Will Democracy in Egypt Benefit the Palestinians?

For decades, and despite much rhetoric to the contrary, American-led Western policy has been to prefer Arab dictatorship (authoritarianism in various forms) to Arab democracy. This preference was determined by two main assessments.

One was that corrupt and repressive Arab regimes were the best possible guarantee that oil would continue to flow at prices acceptable to the West, and that there would be almost no limits to the amount of weapons that could be sold to the most wealthy Arab states. (The design, production, testing and selling of weapons is one of the biggest creators of jobs and wealth in America, Britain and some other Western nations. Were it not for Saudi Arabia’s purchases, Britain’s arms manufacturing industry might have gone bust by now).

The other main policy-driving assessment was that only corrupt and repressive Arab regimes could be relied upon to provide the necessary security assistance for identifying, locating, hunting down and liquidating Islamic terrorists. This consideration became the priority after 9/11.

In addition there was great comfort for Western policy makers in their knowledge that a corrupt and repressive Arab Order was not going to fight Israel to liberate Palestine. (As I have noted in previous posts and documented in detail in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, after Israel closed the Palestine file with its victory on the battlefield in 1948, the Arab regimes secretly shared the same hope as the all the major powers and Zionism – that the file would remain closed. There was not supposed to have been a re-generation of Palestinian nationalism).

There was also comfort for Western policy makers in the belief that their relationship with corrupt and repressive Arab regimes would mean that the Western powers would not be seriously challenged on their support for Israel right or wrong. Put another way, Western governments, the one in Washington D.C. especially, knew they would not be required by the Arab regimes to pay a price for doing the bidding of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress and the mainstream media.

No wonder then that while Tunisian-inspired people power was manifesting itself in Egypt, President Obama often seemed unclear about whether he wanted Mubarak to stay or go.

With Mubarak gone – I imagine the generals finally said to him something like, “We’ve either got to shoot our people or insist that you go now” – the first question is this: Will the High Council of Egypt’s armed forces really be prepared to preside over the dismantling of a corrupt and cruel system and give democracy a green light?

The problem for some of Egypt’s top generals is not only letting go of their own grip on the levers of political power. They are also locked into the business and financial corruption Mubarak presided over. I imagine he believed that allowing them to make loads of money would guarantee they would not make trouble for him as he assisted Israel to impose its will on the Palestinians, not least by effectively cancelling the results of the Palestinian elections which gave Hamas victory in the Gaza Strip.

That said, I am inclined to the view that the High Council will honour its promise to hand over to a civilian government and that we will see something approaching real democracy in Egypt. But what then?

The High Council has said, not surprisingly, that it will respect all of Egypt’s international obligations including the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. (My own view is that this separate peace was a disaster for the whole world. Why? With Egypt out of the military equation, Israel had complete freedom to be even more aggressive in seeking to impose its will on the region, with Lebanon its prime target. At a stroke Sadat’s separate peace with Israel also destroyed the prospects for a comprehensive peace).

Key question: Would a democratically elected civilian government have to be bound by the High Council’s commitment to the peace treaty with Israel?

The answer, surely, has to be “No!” If, for example, the will of the people who elected the new government was for the peace treaty with Israel to be reviewed, the government would have to set a review process in motion.

That would create a very tricky situation for the government with Israel and the U.S. but it could be managed by the government saying that it would submit the treaty to a referendum.

If there was a referendum, much would depend on how the question was framed. If it was a simple “Yes” or “No” to Egypt remaining committed to the peace treaty with Israel, probably an easy majority of Egyptians would vote “No”. But that would not be good politics.

Best politics would be for the government of Egypt to frame the referendum question to give it the authority to say to Israel something like: “We wish to remain committed to our peace treaty with you, but we will be unable to do so without a commitment from you to end your occupation of all Arab land taken in 1967

Unless a majority of Israelis are beyond reason, that could be a game changer which would benefit the region and the whole world, not only the Palestinians.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and globally as a researcher, author, and a correspondent for ITN and the BBC. Read other articles by Alan, or visit Alan's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on February 14th, 2011 at 8:21am #

    Quite a good analysis. I doubt if any Egyptian government would openly renounce the peace treaty with Egypt. That would just give the “Massada faction” in Israel the excuse they are looking for to attack Egypt (and, if possible, set off WWIII!). Most likely, the treaty will just be left to die quietly, which is probably why Israel’s extremist friends are so frantically trying to declare the next President of Egypt (whoever he turns out to be!) an American stooge in advance and the “revolution” an 1848-style failure. The new president will probably have to lift the blockade of Gaza if he is to be credible, though, but that probably suits the Israelis, since they have painted themselves into a corner on that one and would no doubt be delighted to let the whole thing drop without appearing to back down. Thus, so far so good. And the fun seems to be heading for Algeria!

  2. Ismail Zayid said on February 14th, 2011 at 8:56am #

    The hope must be that a new Egyptian government, elected by the Egyptian people, will be responsive to to the wishes of those who elected them. It is also our confidence that the heroic Egyptian people, who courageously waged this revolution, will demand that their government must examine carefully all the previous international committments, including the peace treaty with Israel, taking note of the wishes and interests of the Egyptian people, as a major Arab nation, that cares for the wellbeing of the Arab people, including the Palestinians, and their human rights and the Israeli policies that stand in defiance of international law and the UN Charter.

  3. bozh said on February 14th, 2011 at 9:37am #

    i have for the last two decades expected that world supremacists want to erase last vestiges of a caring-sharing societies in all lands.
    i do not think that only ones in u.s. want to do that.
    rise of, or if it ever wld rise, egalitarianism-lawfullness in u.s. must be prevented by any cost.
    waging wars is just one tool in the supremacists’ kit. filling police, fib, cia, and army ranks-echelons with supremacists is another tool.

    nearly all teachers teach supremacism as the only way to live. all judges, columnists, pols promote supremacism; thus, also classful societies.

    this is music to the ears of not only arab supremacists [fascists if u like] but also ones in s.america, asia, europe, and afrika.
    this is what “end of history” means to the masters of war-peace-work-law-people means.

    it seems only china remains in their way.

    there r strong pockets of egalitarianism [communism, if u like] in the balkans, cuba, russia, venezuela, korea [i don’t split korea in two], vietnam, and elsewhere.

    so, it’s not over yet. i still hold onto hope that fascists [the greatest evil to have befallen us to date] can be defeated and for all time! tnx

  4. Angie Tibbs said on February 14th, 2011 at 11:48am #

    Mr. Hart writes, in part … “not least by effectively cancelling the results of the Palestinian elections which gave Hamas victory in the Gaza Strip”.

    This is very misleading.

    In the January 2006 elections, Hamas won 76 of 132 seats in the Palestinian Parliament, Fatah, a mere 43. Instead of accepting the overwhelming victory of Hamas and urging the nations of the world to abide by the election results, Abbas and friends, following the dictates of the US and Israel, refused to step aside so that Hamas could do what they were elected to do — govern.

    Fatah created one obstacle after another in its determination to prevent Hamas from assuming power as per the wishes of the Palestinian people. The civil war that erupted, designed to remove Hamas from the equation, failed, and Hamas took control of Gaza. However, it is the rightful elected government of all of occupied Palestine.

    As it reads, one is led to believe that elections were only held in Gaza and/or that the rest of occupied Palestine voted for someone else, which, of course, is incorrect.

  5. Don Hawkins said on February 14th, 2011 at 11:49am #

    Well Bozh just on the off chance you are correct that is one lousy plan and you would think they just might have better things to do with there lives. I guess it just help’s them get up in the morning gives them purpose.

  6. bozh said on February 14th, 2011 at 12:56pm #

    the plan is as old–probably much older– as recorded history. and the sheer evilness of it had been noted millennia ago in all societies.
    this evil never took roots among many american folks. lack of jails, politicians, clergy, organized religions, professional armies, spies, judges, ‘laws’, etc., proves it.

    the best i can do wld be to call u.s. masters of people very insanely sane! i do not use the word “psychopathic” for them, since psychopaths may get mad at me for the insult i wld hurl at them.

    btw, don, i am not trying to give u a headache. damn it, i am just very sanely sane; however, not in everything i do!
    eg, i forgot again to buy my small head valentine card! and even after she asked me if i knew what feb 14 is?
    i said i didn’t know! so, she said, u gonna forget to buy me the card once again!
    i said, ok, u can have the card or sex but not both. ur choice. what id she choose, do u think? tnx